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Heart Health

Journey to Ironman: Part 1 of 4

The journey to becoming an Ironman is more than just crossing a finish line at the end of a race, it’s a lifelong adventure of being the best you can be and improving yourself. Every person’s story is unique and everyone has a different reason for wanting to complete the challenge which is known for being one of the most mentally and physically demanding endurance races in the world. Ultimately, I chose to do it for me, follow through with the commitment to myself, and to prove that the body is much more capable than what we realize. Anything is

Be Your Best Blood Pressure

What is blood pressure and how does it relate to health? Blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your heart has to work to pump blood out to the body. It calculates the volume of blood leaving your heart (cardiac output) by the resistance it faces when it leaves (peripheral resistance.) There are many contributing factors to make up this number: How healthy is your heart? How much blood volume do you have? Did you lose blood? How strong and flexible are your arteries? How old and what sex are you? What is your genetic susceptibility or risk? What

The Facts about Cholesterol

Cholesterol gets a pretty bad reputation in the self-care health circles but it may be time to revisit this ubiquitous molecule. Cholesterol is the backbone of steroid hormones, bile salts, vitamin D, and cell membranes. Without cholesterol, we would not be able to digest foods properly; our cell structure would not be able to withstand any changes in temperature, and a significant number of important hormones such as estrogen and testosterone could not be produced. So how can it be that bad? Well, like all good things it is best in moderation. High total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and trans fats

Magnesium & Heart Health

When you hear magnesium do you immediately think of sports performance or cramping legs? You are not alone. So often we are conditioned to think of minerals as having one function, but the reality is that many minerals, particularly magnesium are very diverse and can be used for many health conditions. In fact, magnesium has over 300 different functions in the body from electrolyte regulation, neurotransmitter production and yes,  you guessed it, muscle contraction. In fact, it’s not just related to skeletal muscle contraction but all smooth muscle contraction as well. That means those small smooth muscles in your gut

Protecting your Heart and Blood Vessels with Antioxidants

February is heart health month so of course we start to see more posts on heart-healthy recipes and natural ingredients. One thing you might notice is that many of these natural compounds fall into the category of antioxidants. This is a broad term that includes any substance that that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are produced in our bodies as results of normal cell energy production or from external damaging influences (i.e. UV radiation, chemicals etc.). The cardio-vascular system is especially sensitive to the effects of free radicals.

Nattokinase: The Natural Cardiovascular Health Booster

When it comes to our cardiovascular health, many of us don’t have a high awareness of the prevalence and risks of cardiovascular disease – we tend not to focus on the problems that we can’t see. According to recent surveys, most of us aren’t aware, for example, that blood clots, aka thrombosis, are responsible for one in four deaths in Canada each year. The primary cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis, which happens when fatty plaques build up on the walls of an artery and eventually block it. Eventually, these plaques can rupture, and the resultant blood clot can deprive

Methylation & HomocysteineTheir Vital Roles in Heart Health

A subject that is gaining much attention in many circles of medicine these days is methylation, as it pertains to our body’s functions and in particular the management of homocysteine. With respect to statistics of heart disease in Canada, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, every seven minutes in Canada someone will die of heart disease or stroke. They are both in the top three causes of death for Canadians. Although numbers have improved with respect to heart disease over the years, these are still very sobering statistics. Thus, in looking at a preventative approach and management strategy for

Heart Structure and Function 101

The Plumbing and Wiring Systems of Your Heart The heart is the most important muscle in the body. Yes, it is a striated muscle that functions and contracts similarly to an arm muscle, or a leg muscle. However, as we know, it has the very unique ability to contract tirelessly at a constant beat, pushing blood, oxygen and nutrients to the rest of our muscles, tissues and cells so that the body can function as a whole unit. The heart is made up of two very important systems: these can be thought of as an electrical system and a plumbing

Give Your Blood Vessels Some TLC!

Many people in North America suffer from diabetes, obesity and heart disease. One of the key underlying factors in all of the above conditions is inflammation and damage at the level of the blood vessel lining. The good news is that a diet high in antioxidants such as vitamin C actually protects against these damaging effects. While diet is essential, especially for prevention, it sometimes is not enough to counteract established disease processes. Luckily vitamin C provides a simple solution. Vitamin C is most well-known for its use to combat colds, but a recent large-scale review study confirmed that 500mg of vitamin

The Power of Beets in Blood Pressure Reduction and Sports Performance

Support for the use of nitrate rich foods or drinks in maintaining good health continues to be published. Two new studies from the UK suggest that the nitrates in beetroot can reduce blood pressure level as well as boost the performance running time of female athletes. The first study from the University of Reading in England incorporated red and white beetroot into a unique bread formulation. Fourteen healthy males participated in this double blind randomized cross-over study. Each participant consumed either 100 g (two slices) of white or red beetroot enriched bread and then had their blood pressure levels measured

L-Arginine and Nitric Oxide: What You Need to Know

Since 1998, when the Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded for the work on nitric oxide (NO) as a signalling molecule that was responsible for dilation of the blood vessels, research in NO has accelerated rapidly. In the mid 1990’s two independent research teams from University of London and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that NO could be generated from nitrates that were abundant in green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale and especially beetroot. This requires the activation of the NOx 3,2,1 pathway to be fully operational. In effect, nitrates consumed in foods are reduced by oral bacteria

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